Memory Motel: A Rock And Roll Fantasy, Part Two Section Eleven: “You Can Kiss Me
Part Two: Two Years Later (Continued)
Nothing else happened, they studied, they talked, they read, she studied in quiet and he watched her. She walk him to the car and squeezed his hand and then he drove away, nothing said yet, everything waiting the world pending, how much longer?
Three days later he broke.
The door locked, quiet complete quiet, the two of them and Ian didn’t care what the consequence was, didn’t think about the price, didn’t matter to him anything, he had to say it to Michelle, in a shirt summer dress, Pro Keds and sweat socks, a Pagans tee-shirt, her hair in a crunchy pulled back from her face and her face like a heart shaped box of candies, so sweet, so wide open and yet so closed and so for him.
“I know I shouldn’t do this, and I know I shouldn’t even come close to admitting, and it is dangerous for me, and for you but if I don’t tell you I think I’ll die. I love you.”
“I love you, too,” Michelle replied.
“No, I mean I’m in love with you. You are all I think about and all I care about, everything you think of as a cliche about love, I feel it for you. I’ve never ever felt this way, not ever. I think I’m going crazy.”
“I know what it means when a man tells you he loves you,” she said. A half smile on her face. “I’m not that young.”
“It is wrong…”
“It is getting too late for that, isn’t it?”
“Yes, and I don’t expect anything from you, not even to keep my secret, but if I can’t kiss you I can’t go on.”
“You can kiss me,” she said.
Ian leaned across the desk and took her hand and she leaned across the desk and they kissed, not long, but serious, and with a linger at the tail end of it. It was exactly quiet and he closed his yes trying to hold the moment forever and then he heard her say “Kiss me again” and it was like magic, suddenly and in this exact moment his dream came true. “This is going to happen”, he said to himself and Michelle remembered how his tongue tasted for that one passing moment and then again.
In the privacy of their study quarters, the two began a sexual relationship that began to wear on Michelle with enormous speed. Before a week was out she was a little bored with Ian’s consistent love stuff, it wore on her nerves and it hit her how it was less than exciting to have a grown man under her thumb. “I wish he wouldn’t”, she would think to herself as he held her close and stroked her hair. “I can’t believe you’re mine” he would whisper and the thought “That will never happen” flashed through her mind. Ian was too baffled by his good fortune to notice her distance and too selfish, as selfish as a man in a position of trust over a girl who advances a love affair can be, to understand what she needed. But Michelle understood. “What I need is Phil, I need him to be my dad. Whatever else he is, he is a man, and whatever Ian is, he isn’t a man. He is a creep.”
Three weeks into the relationship, Michelle was sick of it, and when he asked her for a kiss, she refused. “Please,” he begged, his voice a nagging nerve bending horror right on an exposed nerve. “Just one kiss and I’ll be good” He was trying to be cute and a week ago it’d have worked but it didn’t this time. “For fuck’s sake Ian, grow a pair will you You’re always begging me. Go away. Leave me alone already. We haven’t really studied in days, I am not paying you to fuck me.”
Ian sort of sank back and he looked as though somebody had hit him hard, Michelle felt a tinge of sadness and she put her hand on his cheek. “Am I a nasty bitch?” She said. “I’m sorry, come here”. They made love and when they were finished Michelle cradled him in his arms and they lay there. And it dawned on him that it was over.
When the end did come, it was with a brutal efficiency not unlike Hannah throwing Phil out of the house 16 years prior. When love dies it is like coming out of a fog, suddenly you wonder what on earth you had been thinking about ever. How could you have done this, loved this guy, this nobody, this clingy child with so little self-control he could even allow it to happen. Ian was much more upset than even Phil had been, nothing had changed for Ian and whatever the world may claim Ian was, he was insanely in love with the girl. He thought about her always and then, suddenly, a Tuesday, a week before the tests to skip a grade, she fired him.
Well, first, why would she want to skip a class to start with? All her friends were in that class. Why would she leave them? “This was your idea and it was a bad one and I should never have listened to you for one second. You mislead me You made me something you were proud of me, when we all know what you really wanted, don’t we?”
“How can you say that?” he sputtered but there was no real defense open to him.
“You got it all, money and sex, and what did I get? I got to waste my summer with a big fucking creep. I must have been crazy…” Then she paused for the hard kicker. “I should have you arrested”
Consider it as great a line as anyone ever delivered, Ian went white, ashen crumpled. He was almost in a state of shock. “This isn’t you talking to me this way, what did I ever do but love you?”
“Do you really want me to answer that? Or perhaps we can go to my daddy in the vice squad and ask him what he thinks?” That wasn’t really a bluff, she had no idea who Phil was and whoever he was he hadn’t been in vice. But it felt good.
If it was possible, Ian went even whiter. After all these weeks and months, he didn’t know what hit him but he did know what it reminded him of, it reminded him of being bullied by his big brothers when he a child, there was a similar sense of no way out at all. He didn’t say anything, he just sat down and let it happen and there was no way to protect himself and no protection he deserved. Michelle took the past two months and inverted them, she hounded him with his lack of discipline, lack of true love for her, his taking advantage of her vulnerability. “You repulse me,” she said, enjoying the revenge enjoying the payback. “You took your power over me and made it something disgraceful and embarrassing and you took my love and you defiled it. I AM FIFTEEN and your ward. I never want to see you again, get out.”
There was no way Cardigan could answer any of this, he couldn’t even assimilate it. But one thing he was certain of, if his family didn’t care for him, and the girl he loved considered him a rapist, then neither Massachusetts nor Los Angeles is a place he could bear to be in. For a moment he considered killing himself, instead he emailed his resignation, surrendered his lease, jumped in his car and drove away from it all. Or as far as he could, driving, sleeping in the car, driving some more, first some hip hop and then some bruce springsteen and finally settling on the Stones, the music so loud it drowned out his thoughts or at least as much he could. There was no one to ask after him, no one to care where he was, whether he was alive or dead, he was completely free, a matter of total irrelevance on the face of the Earth, driving east though he knew he wouldn’t be that far gone Somewhere in Cincinnati he stopped off for a drink, and spent a week steadily drinking. When he woke up it was October and he went in search of job again.
And then, finally, he couldn’t hide from Michele’s memory any longer and he collapsed into it. Relived every moment, the good and the bad, from the tender whisper of his name, to the snarl and shrug, he blamed himself but even with that blame came the caveat: “but I loved her, I have never loved any one that much and I never will”. But then even further down deep he wondered what he loved and how he loved. Cardigan would be drunk in some dive most nights, telling anyone who listened a fictionalized story of what happened, raising her age to 25, because anyone who wanted to hear about a 15 year old is nobody he wanted to tell. Sometimes he would tell a stranger how he was left at the altar, sometimes he killed her off and mourned her that way, sometimes she left him for his best friend. The details didn’t matter, the details didn’t make sense as he tried to grasp the nearly endless ache.
A school year at a local Public School later, Michelle was a memory who couldn’t stop returning to, not the entire story, just a moment, just the way she would smile after they kissed and then, later still, she was just that one moment, that one phrase, the greatest and the worst moment of his life one sly smile. “Kiss me again”, she had said, and he did, and always would.